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What Can We Learn in a Connected Lighting Test Bed?

Central to DOE’s connected lighting systems (CLS) efforts is a connected lighting test bed (CLTB), designed and operated by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to characterize the capabilities of CLS. The results will increase visibility and transparency on key performance characteristics and new feature capabilities, and create tight information feedback loops to inform technology developers of needed improvements. If you are interested in participating in DOE CLTB studies, send an email to with your contact information and area of interest.


The CLTB infrastructure enables the efficient installation of indoor and outdoor lighting devices. Two ceiling grids are available for installing indoor lighting luminaires. The height of each is vertically adjustable, to enable easy installation and set varying luminaire heights. The grids have plug-and-socket interfaces to enable easy electrical connections, and circuit-level power and energy metering in the electrical panels that serve them. The CLTB also has dedicated infrastructure for street lighting luminaires; again, plug-and-socket interfaces enable easy electrical connections. 

To enable the testing of multiple devices and systems, the CLTB includes a software interoperability platform that allows installed lighting devices and systems not natively capable of exchanging data with each other to be able to communicate through a defined middleware interface. Multiple commercially available indoor and outdoor CLS have been installed in the CLTB, incorporated into the software interoperability platform, and made available for CLS and other studies.


Several studies are under way to characterize the energy reporting capabilities of connected lighting systems. Power over Ethernet (PoE) CLS typically promise enhanced energy management capability, based in large part on the ability to report actual energy consumption. However, the accuracy of reported energy consumption, and which system components are responsible for it, is often unclear.

The first  PoE Lighting System Energy Reporting Study describes and analyzes the various ways that PoE CLS can be architected, and report energy consumption. A follow-up study will test a variety of power sourcing equipment and powered devices in PoE systems to evaluate energy use reporting accuracy and isolate sources of error. This information will ultimately lead to more accurate characterization of energy use in PoE CLS. A related system efficiency study involves testing to quantify energy losses in PoE cabling, exploring the impact of cable characteristics and installation techniques, and verifying the usefulness of emerging industry recommended practices. Another study in the works aims to examine the energy reporting accuracy of streetlight controllers. DOE is partnering with National Grid, TESCO, and Georgia Power to compare the results of multiple test and measurement setups.


Several studies focused on demonstrating and informing collaborative efforts toward improved CLS interoperability are also under way, and initial efforts to integrate connected lighting systems in the CLTB have brought valuable insight into current interoperability capabilities and limitations. The first CLS Interoperability Study focuses on interoperability as realized by the use of application programming interfaces (APIs). It explores the diversity of such interfaces in several CLS; characterizes the extent of interoperability that they provide; and illustrates challenges, limitations, and tradeoffs that were encountered during this exploration. Part 2 of this study will focus on improved testing and characterization methodology. Studies in development will explore the ability of multiple streetlight central management systems to retrieve asset information from various make and model luminaires, and the ability to incorporate streetlight occupancy sensor data into the configured control strategies for one or more luminaires.


A cybersecurity characterization capability is also being established in the CLTB in collaboration with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and a variety of technology partners. DOE is currently supporting UL on their efforts to develop a standardized test method for cybersecurity vulnerabilities by evaluating draft methods in the CLTB, and sharing results with Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) partners. When one or more test methods are deemed sufficient, DOE will conduct studies to evaluate the cybersecurity vulnerabilities in connected lighting and the effectiveness of strategies to address them.